Your first clue to this article should be that you won’t be listening to much. You’re reading it. Second clue is don’t ever assume anyone with 5 kids has this thing down pat. What does pat have to do with it anyway?
I’ve learned a lot over the years about these young animals called children. They are wild things with crazy ideas, maybe like some adults you know. These ideas simply need molding.
Let me give an example of one of my taming tactics. I like to take the toddlers to our downtown park. There is an old bridge made of stone that’s simply for drainage and maybe some rock throwing. Not skipping, just throwing. It is definitely not a place you need to be jumping into and looking around. It’s just a drainage ditch. It’s charming in a way with its old worn grey stone but definitely not for those that lack full vaccinations. Of course, the toddlers always want to play in said, ‘dangerous and gross place’. What do you do?! I simply tell them, “Kate, honey, there may be some TROLLS down there. You don’t want to go there”. A slight extension of the truth.
“What?! Is Poppy down there?” she squeals in excitement.
“Oh no, Poppy lives in the forest, not under bridges. Only naughty trolls with warts on their faces live there. They can’t even talk. They groan and make weird noises and speaking in tongues.” The more I got into my facade, the more they became confused.
“They speak in tongues? Like how many’s?” she asked.
Where I answer, ” Uhh, a lot of tongues. Hey look! It’s a swing!” in attempt to distract her.
Kate replies, “I want to catch that squirrel.” and I say, “squirrel?” I’m beginning to think we are both 4 years old at this point.
“Oh we can’t catch squirrels. No, they are super cute but have fangs like vampires in their mouths.” I give a disappointing look and tell her, “they need fangs to eat the acorn. Watch ’em. He’s got acorns in his hand.” I have no idea what I’m talking about, BUT!! Have they wondered off into the disgusting bridge or chased after rabid squirrels? NO. See, great parenting.
I know what you’re thinking, I understand. This tactic doesn’t work for everyone. I have teenagers too. Don’t worry, I’m about to save your life and your sanity with this teenager tactic. This is some of my finest parenting material, that simply involves one tool, the squirt bottle. YUP! Lay down your parenting books and grab your windex!
Here is what happened. One beautiful fall afternoon, I picked up my kids from school. All 5 are home, eating, complaining, bickering, and fighting with each other.
This is all I hear, “John, give it back to me.” says #2 kid.
“I didn’t take it.” said #1 kid.
“Yes, you did” said #2 kid. “John you ate my food.”
“No, that was my food.” #1 says.
“How was that your food when I put it in the microwave. That’s my plate! Now I’m going to die from starvation. Give me my food back.” firmly stated by #2 kid.
#1 drives his fork into the food and eats it with gleaming eyes and a crooked smile directly at #2. #1 lives for opportunity to irritate #2. Nonetheless, the bickering continued. Non-stop-bickering for 1 and 2.
“MOM!! MOM!! MOM!! Do you see what’s happening here?” states #2
Me. “John, did you take it?Is that your food? Don’t y’all have homework to do? Can I take you to a job? Can I take you anywhere?”
I was exhausted. I had been at work for days with actual active stress. I want peace, I need peace, I need it now, oh crap, here they go, they won’t stop, it keeps going, my ears are being filled with irritating bantering AHHHHHHH!! I feel the sense of wanting to loose it and suddenly, I grab my gardening SQUIRT BOTTLE full of water and start spraying both of them straight in the face. I am NOT joking when I say it worked. I twisted the top and straight line, full power, get ’em dead center between the eyes. I would pay money for a picture of their faces when they got hit. It hit them straight in the ego. They looked up, boggled at what just happened, we all chuckled, and #1 walked away from #2’s food and #1 walked in his room and brought out his homework and did #1’s homework.
So in reality, how you train your dog or cat is how we train our kids?? No way it’s this easy. I am actually MORE irritating to THEM now. Truly a lovely feeling. Continual bantering chaos has settled like a space ship crashing in the desert, bam! Done. It’s glorious.
FYI, don’t mist. Misting is for facials (or plants). It’s necessary to turn the power up and aim high. Your simply getting their attention and redirecting them. If the bantering continues, the more water you aim at their ridiculous undeveloped prefrontal cortex. Maybe it’ll grow like one of those shrunken sponges once they get wet.
I don’t know…I feel like I’ve hit gold. This has been working, repeatedly! Forget spankin’s. Forget parenting books. All you need is $3 at Lowe’s for a spray bottle.
I think the bottle needs a name. Something like, “common sense” or “stupid juice”, maybe “shut up squirter” or “nonsense knocker”. I feel an invention coming on.
Hope it works for you as much as it has for us. Don’t you love parenting??